By CO Kamara (Historian)
Hi Kairo Radio,
I am a big fan of your educative and entertaining radio programs. I very much enjoy the eloquent conversational discussion by Musa Saidykhan and Yaya Dampha. And with Fabou Sanneh also. I am sent back to the past by Suntou Touray’s Tariko oral kora history. Thanks guys, well done.
Now I am giving my take on the ruins of Kansala. I think the history of Kaabu conspicuously epitomizes the Nyancho or the Manding people’s mastery of statecraft. Without any intention of over glorifying or worshiping the past, anybody that is of Manding origin can pride themselves in the Nyanchos’ ability to run the affairs of their empire that stretched from what is now modern Guinea Bissau to some parts northern Senegal with ease and aplomb for over five centuries without any form of external assistance. It was the largest and the most powerful empire along the Atlantic coast up to the mid-19th century.
The fortress of Kansala, which was the administrative seat of the great empire, was partitioned into 32 sections with each section representing one of the 32 states that made up the empire. This is eloquence of the fact that there was some level of democracy in the administration of Kaabu even before the French Revolution of the late 18th century. Therefore, Manding people attained civilization before they had any contact with external forces (Europeans).
Also, there was a high sense of nationalism and valour among the Nyancho and Koring clans of Kaabu. That was in fact their guiding light. This was manifested by the quintessential last emperor, Mama Jankey Wally on the day Kansala was to fall for good. In spite of being overwhelmingly outnumbered by the invaders (Fouta Djalon army), Jankey Wally and his men would not capitulate. They resisted in a way that was legendary. Their enemies succeeded in destroying the fortress of Kansala but at a very high cost to their attackers. In fact, it could only be called a pyrrhic victory for the invaders.
Jankey Wally and his relatively small army’s valorous resistance on that fateful day has since then being sung to the fever kora rhythm by the griots of Senegambia.